Tysons, VA

Friday Morning Notes

Vienna Police Move into New Temporary Home — With construction on a new station set to begin soon, the Vienna Police Department relocated to the former Faith Baptist Church at 301 Center Street on Jan. 7. Operations and responses haven’t been affected by the move, but the department is taking non-emergency calls at 703-255-6366. [Vienna Happenings]

Mosaic District to Add Dutch Snack Outlet — Poffy will serve traditional Dutch mini pancakes called poffertjes that are often prepared by street vendors. Owner Lilian Wanandy-Perez hopes to open the store in May or June, depending on the permitting process. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Golf Training Center Opens in Tysons — “GOLFTEC Tysons Corner, a golf instruction and club fitting center, has opened in Tysons. Located at 1430 Spring Hill Road, Suite 102, McLean, the 2,500 -square-foot facility offers golf lessons for a variety of individual needs.” [Patch]

Tysons IT Company Receives Acquisition ProposalDXC Technology confirmed on Jan. 7 that it received an unsolicited, preliminary and non-binding proposal from Atos SE to acquire all DXC shares. The company’s board of directors will be evaluating the proposal. [Business Wire]

Home Sales in McLean Were Up in 2020 — “Year over year, there has been marginal improvement in the number of home sales with a total count of 1,249 in 2020 compared to 1,219 in 2019. Compared to one decade ago in 2010, there is significantly better news as sales are up 39 percent over that time frame.” [Connection Newspapers]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Jinya Ramen Bar will kick off the new year with a pop-up in the Mosaic District, the noodle shop chain announced today (Wednesday).

Scheduled to open within the next six weeks, the space will be paired with a Japanese-inspired dessert shop that offers soft-serve ice cream and donuts. The pop-up space will be open Thursdays through Sundays.

Jinya’s existing Mosaic District location (2911 District Ave.) is also still open for takeout, delivery, and indoor dining in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Jinya is also adding menu items for the holiday season that will be available at all four of its spots in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, including the Mosaic restaurant:

Holiday cocktails

  • Sassy Old Fashioned: Toki whiskey with honey and saffron syrup and orange bitters, garnished with an orange peel and cherry
  • Winter Blossom: Etsu gin with cranberry syrup, citrus, and Asian pear puree, topped with sake

Chef’s specials

  • Soft Shell Crab Bun: a steamed bun stuffed with crispy soft-shell crab, avocado, and baby mixed greens
  • Spicy Maze-Men: extra-thick noodles with no broth, dressed with umami bonito Japanese aioli and topped with pork chashu, kimchi, seasoned egg, green and white onions, bonito flakes, and nori (seaweed)

The specialty cocktails cost $10. The holiday menu items will be available through New Year’s Day.

Photo courtesy Jinya Ramen Bar

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Schools Presents Final Options for TJ Admissions — “After months of debate, Fairfax County school officials are proposing final options for reforming admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology — either switching to a lottery system or adopting a “holistic review,” revisions meant to boost diversity at the flagship STEM magnet school.” [The Washington Post]

Tex-Mex Restaurant Opens in Mosaic District — “Urbano Mosaic is a spinoff of Urbano116, a similar concept on lower King Street in Alexandria…The menu covers items such as appetizers, ceviches, tacos, salads, fajitas, chimichangas, enchiladas, burritos, entrées and platters.” [Patch]

Virginia Transit Leaders Discuss Post-Pandemic Commute Changes — “Democratic senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — the latter in a recorded message — expressed optimism that lawmakers would soon pass a COVID-19 relief package. Kaine and Warner reiterated the importance of funding to enable Metro to avoid major service cuts despite its budget shortfalls.” [WTOP]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Fairfax County and Virginia state officials kicked off passenger service on Thursday (Oct. 22) for Relay, the first test of autonomous technology in public transportation in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“Won’t it be great to look back and say, ‘We remember the day in 2020 when we were sitting in the Mosaic and this Relay vehicle successfully proved to the country that you can do this in a safe way and also look toward future innovations in transportation,” Jeffrey McKay, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said.

Relay, a 100% electric, autonomous vehicle, runs 10 miles per hour from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metrorail Station to the Barnes and Noble in the Mosaic District. It makes the trip every 15 to 20 minutes, Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Relay can transport up to 12 passengers — six seated and six standing — but to encourage social-distancing, it will currently only take three passengers and a safety attendant at a time. The shuttle is fully accessible for people with disabilities.

The project represents a public-private partnership between Fairfax County and Dominion Energy aimed at improving road safety, encouraging the use of public transit, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It received a $200,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and a $50,000 match from Fairfax County. The county is contracting with Transdev to manage the operations of Relay.

EDENS, the developer of the Mosaic District, provides shuttle storage and stop improvements. The Virginia Department of Transportation provided signage, lane striping and bus stops.

The ribbon-cutting event held Thursday, three months after its first test run, was abuzz with officials talking about the future and innovation.

Mark Webb, the chief innovation officer for Dominion Energy, said Relay “is just plain cool.”

“It’s the sort of thing we’d see in a Star Wars movie or Blade Runner movie without lift-off capabilities,” said Webb, whose company purchased the shuttle and contracted with EasyMile, a driverless technology company that mapped the route and manufactured the vehicle.

Even without the futuristic promises, Relay improves road safety, extends public transit, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, Webb said.

Connecting the two ends of the Mosaic District will encourage people to ride public transit who are dissuaded by getting to and from transit stops, said Catherine McGhee, the director of research and innovation for the Virginia Transportation Research Council.

“Relay serves a real purpose. It’s not a one-off demonstration in a parking lot,” she said. “It is part of the transit ecosystem here in Fairfax County.”

Officials also reminisced about the underutilized, industrial, dull feel of the Mosaic District before serious efforts were undertaken to develop it, spearheaded by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia).

“Without a Mosaic, there would be no Relay. There would be no autonomous vehicle project,” McKay said.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik wants to see the development extend to the older, industrial, and partially vacant zone in between the two Relay stops.

“I really hope it will help develop the areas between the two stops,” Palchik said. “We don’t stop here.”

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(Updated at 10:43 on 10/21/2020) Members of the public will get to ride “Relay,” Merrifield’s new autonomous, electric shuttle service, for the first time this Thursday (Oct. 22), the Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced on Monday.

The shuttle will transport its first public riders along its designated route between the Mosaic District and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro Station at the conclusion of a celebration that will also feature comments by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), and other officials.

Face coverings and observance of social distancing protocols will be mandatory for attendees.

“We’re all really excited about it,” Fairfax County Economic Initiatives Coordinator Eta Nahapetian said. “It’s been so hard with the pandemic. It’s so many less people [at the Mosaic District]. All the retail businesses are suffering, and this is actually, hopefully a really good opportunity for some good news.”

The first state-funded, autonomous, electric vehicle designed for public transportation to be tested in Virginia, Relay will operate free of charge from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.

While the shuttle can accommodate up to 12 passengers, ridership will generally be limited to four people – three passengers and a vehicle safety operator – when it launches to ensure compliance with COVID-19 social distancing protocols.

Nahapetian says the county is considering whether to have some flexibility with the ridership cap for families or other groups who have been staying together in the same household during the pandemic.

Fairfax County first announced that it had partnered with Dominion Energy to pilot a driverless, electric shuttle in the Merrifield area on June 19, 2019.

Other partners on the project include Mosaic District developer EDENS and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which provided a $250,000 grant matched by $50,000 from Fairfax County. Dominion paid for the shuttle and related charging infrastructure, and Transdev is responsible for managing the operations and maintainance of the vehicle.

Since the Relay shuttle went on its first test run on July 28, Fairfax County and Dominion have tweaked the technology and enhanced the infrastructure along its route, adding more signs and engineering a traffic signal priority at the two intersections where it will cross traffic.

“We’ve been working through all those details during the past several months,” Nahapetian said.

The autonomous electric shuttle demonstration project is expected to last about a year.

In addition to using that time to gauge public opinion of its experiment with driverless vehicles, Fairfax County will gather data on the technology used in the pilot through an independent research study conducted by Virginia Transportation Research Council and Virginia Tech.

The county has also partnered with George Mason University’s School of Business for a separate study on “human factors” of the project, such as how the shuttle is being used and how it affects Merrifield’s economy.

Research on the Relay shuttle’s economic impact could be especially meaningful as it launches amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, which forced many restaurants and retail businesses in the Mosaic District and elsewhere to close earlier this year.

“Hopefully, there will be a lot of interesting technology findings and economic findings that come out of the project,” Nahapetian said. “Can we use this technology as a first-mile/last-mile [option]? We are so single-occupant-vehicle dependent. We need to change that.”

Correction: This article has been edited to state that the company responsible for managing the operations and maintenance of the Relay shuttle is Transdev, not Transurban as previously stated.

Photo courtesy Peggy Fox/Dominion Energy

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There’s been some progress on plans to start an autonomous shuttle service between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and the Mosaic District, but a large percentage of Americans still have concerns about autonomous vehicles.

The shuttle, operated in a partnership between Fairfax County and Dominion Energy, would be the first driverless public transportation in the region and the first state-funded autonomous transportation project in Virginia. The shuttle would be free to ride.

“The shuttle travel between the Dunn Loring Metrorail station and Mosaic in Merrifield,” Fairfax County said on the project website. “Signage has been installed along the testing route. At the conclusion of testing, the route should remain the same.”

The shuttle started testing in July and word on the grapevine is a new announcement about the shuttle is incoming within the next week.

While autonomous vehicles are generally safe, the few incidents of crashes have been high profile cases.

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Fairfax County officials are celebrating the success of the Mosaic District, with a refunded bond sale making its way back to the county coffers.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, the Board approved a refunded portion of a bond. According to the staff report:

Based on market conditions as of August 31, 2020, a refunding bond sale of $57.2 million is estimated to generate net present value savings of $18.8 million or 33% of the refunding bonds. Debt service payments are programmed in Fund 70040, Mosaic District Community Development Authority. It is expected that annual TIF revenues generated in excess of annual debt service requirements, administrative costs, and deposits to the surplus fund will be retained in the County’s General Fund, including additional savings realized from the refunding bond sale. It is also noted that the reduction in debt service accruing from the refinancing will reduce the potential need to collect the special assessment on owners in the District to cover debt service.

Board members were enthusiastic about the economic sustainability of the Mosaic District and pointed to the commercial area as a positive return on investment.

“This is a very exciting day, that we’re able to refinance and see quite a bit of saving from these bonds that were high risk bonds,” Providence Supervisor Dalia Palchik said, “and we’re hoping they will now be rated and we’ll be able to see reinvestment in the greater Merrifield area.”

Dranesville Supervisor John Foust called the Mosaic District a “success story” for Fairfax County.

“It’s a grand slam home run, and now the financial rewards are starting to flow,” Foust said. “It’s all coming together.”

Chair Jeff McKay also highlighted another small bit of news for the Mosaic District — that the planned self-driving shuttle is getting closer to reality.

“Palchik and I recently heard, on a small fun note, relay self-driving vehicle has been cleared by the Feds to start accepting passengers,” McKay said. “So, many great things are happening in Mosaic, none of which would be happening without the work this board did on establishing to Mosaic District in the first place.

For Vice Chair Penelope Gross, it was a surprising turnaround from when the Mosaic District had first been proposed.

“When Gerry Connolly brought up the issue of Mosaic and we all looked at him like ‘are you crazy?” but he had a vision of what had to be done and it worked,” Gross said. “He was convinced, as Providence district supervisor, that this was going to be a boon for the community. It took 20 years, but it really has paid off.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Angelika Film Center (2911 District Avenue) in the Mosaic District is planning a series of films by Alfred Hitchcock to celebrate October and Halloween.

Most of the shows are $10 with advanced tickets required.

The theater has reopened with new precautions as a result of COVID-19, like decreased seating capacity.

The lineup, according to the Angelika Film Center website:

  • Rear Window — 7 p.m. on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, 2 p.m. on Oct. 7
  • The Birds — 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, 2 p.m. on Oct. 14
  • Vertigo — 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Oct. 21
  • Shadow of a Doubt — 7 p.m. on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, 2 p.m. on Oct. 28

Image via Angelika Film Center

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Local children’s book author, Joe Jamaldinian, is partnering with the Kendra Scott location in the Mosaic District (2920 District Ave) tomorrow (Sept. 19) for a charity event benefiting the Grace DC Homeless Project.

At the event, which runs from 12-2 p.m., Jamaldinian will be signing his Penguin Bob books purchased on-site and conducting meet and greets.

Grace DC Homeless Project is a non-profit that feeds and provides care packages for people experiencing homelessness, according to Jamaldinian.

For all the books sold, Jamaldinian will be donating 100% of the profits to the charity while Kendra Scott will be donating 20% of all sales.

The partnership came about after Jamaldinian said he was contacted by a Kendra Scott representative who loved his book.

Those who want to contribute to the cause but cannot make the in-person event are invited to donate to the cause directly.

Additionally, “20% of Kendra Scott purchases [go] to Grace DC Homeless Project during the event and online through September 20th,” a Facebook post said. “Just enter GIVEBACK8936 at checkout.”

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The “Tysons After Dark” series highlights different activities that keep people busy once the sun goes down. 

Indie films are back at the Angelika Film Center in Mosaic District.

After temporarily closing due to COVID-19 restrictions, Angelika Film Center reopened today (Friday).

The movie line-up for tonight and this weekend includes “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” “Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula,” “Inception” (for its 10th anniversary) and “The Eight Hundred.”

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, the theater has several rules in place for moviegoers, including mask requirements, floor decals for social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, upgraded filters in the HVAC systems and more. A full list of the theater’s safety measures is online.

While movie theaters were allowed to reopen with limited capacity starting July 1, most theaters in the Tysons area waited several weeks before screening movies again. ShowPlace Icon and AMC Theatre reopened in Tysons last week.

In a poll earlier this week, roughly 68% of 369 Tysons Reporter readers said they do not feel comfortable going back to movie theaters as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Approximately 16% said they do feel safe heading back to theaters, while 14% haven’t decided yet.

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